as always, the truth lies just beneath the surface [story part 35]
September 25, 2012 § 14 Comments
And tomorrow did come, and home we did go. But home wasn’t for her what was for me.
Getting to the airport was a blast – I don’t even want to remember it. When we did get there, for the second time in a very short period of time, we were once again buying tickets straight from the airport. No reservations, no pre-booking, no man to wait for her and hand her the tickets as she walked in.
I wasn’t sure if this was “going towards normality” or “going towards chaos” – for her, because for me it surely seemed more normal.
In any case – there we were.
<Arrivals> – <Departures>
“Left! We have to go left!” – I said.
“Regina, left!” – I said again while spinning around in circles not knowing if she’s following or she has other plans.
“Wait here, I’m going for tickets.” – Now I don’t really know whether she actually bought them herself or not, but it seemed like it.
Only when we got near the gate did I realize we weren’t actually going to fly in a direction known to me.
Above the gate towards which we were rapidly approaching there was a big LCD reading “A2 – Departures – 12:15 – Rome – Boarding.”
“Ummm I don’t think we’re at the right gate.” I said.
“What do you mean?” Regina replied.
“Well these people are going to Rome…”
“So are we.”
“I’m sorry. What?”
“Where did you think we were going?”
“Yes. Home. That’s where we’re going.”
“Wait I think we have a bit of a confusion here. Whose home are we going to, to be more exact?”
I said nothing. I just… adopted a neutral face and looked in the distance.
“What? You didn’t think I had a home?”
“Well… no, not really. I mean you don’t seem to act like it. It seems to me you’re always on the go…”
This time she was the one who didn’t say anything. The line started moving. We were boarding. Well, that’s that I thought. Apparently I was going to Rome. Hurray?
By the time we got to Fiumicion Terminal C I was already at peace with the idea. After all I was the one who got confused, and nevertheless, getting the chance to see “home” – whatever that meant – was a too good to be turned down of an opportunity.
We took the train from the airport for… about half an hour. We were almost downtown Rome. Now we were heading towards the subway.
And the fun part began here.
It was always like this with her. Never knowing the plan in advance. Never knowing where you’re going or what are you supposed to do. And for some people that might be the most stressful thing in life, not knowing what comes next. The unknown scares us for the most part, and we don’t really want to have anything to do with it. On the other hand, there are the few that are always attracted by the unknown, looking to see more, to do more, to explore. I’m talking about climbers or explorers, cave explorers, any explorers. Those that do not fear the unknown. I wasn’t part of them, but I wasn’t scared of it anyway. Call it a neutral feeling.
We descended in the subway, and instead of getting into a train, Regina seemed a bit confused.
She kept looking left and right, left and right, until there was no subway stopped and nobody around.
“Are we waiting for someone… some… thing?”
And she jumped on the tracks. “Come quick.”
And I did. Without saying anything, without opposing the idea that I might get electrocuted right there and then. I had no idea which track “you shouldn’t touch” – but I did know that one of them was not cool with being touched.
We only walked about 40-50 meters, and then she suddenly turned a right, opened a door, went down a corridor, turned another right and then we were faced with a pretty long corridor that apparently went on forever, and which was also flanked from 5 to 5 meters or so by large square stones, asymmetrically arranged spanning across the full length of the corridor. On top of each of these stones was a thick steel beam supporting the ceiling. I figured they were support beams, considering how old the town was and everything.
Regina looked closely at each and one of them, and then stopped in front of one. She pushed the beam aside and then started pushing that stone rock like her life was dependent on it.
“If you’re taking me in another crypt I’m not coming. I’m telling you now, Sweden was enough.”
“Shut up and help me.” – But that wasn’t the case, because before I had the chance to fake helping her, the stone started moving and revealed an access hatch connected to whatever was downstairs by a metal ladder.
“I really do hope we’re just taking a detour and there actually are easier ways in getting to wherever we’re going.”
“Mmm maybe, but I’d rather not open other doors.”
Before going further, you have to know something: Rome has the biggest and oldest underground network ever discovered. It’s a whole town, the old Rome, buried under the new one. There are literally streets and buildings, rooms and passage ways that haven’t even been discovered yet, or only seen by a hand full of people. If you want to know more read this and this.
I had always imagined her without a home. But ever since I found out she actually had one, I imagined it more in the style she was. An old building, big, imposing, secluded, and yet modernly equipped and with quick access to a large city. Maybe even a butler, who knows.
But no. Instead, we were descending into the depths of hell, because that’s how it felt like. Cold and dark.
We walked and we walked and we walked.
And finally we ended… nowhere. We were faced with a large, thick, old and rough block of stone, the size of Jupiter, which marked the end of the tunnel. There was no right or left, no way around it.
But sure enough, Regina found a way, because the left side of it wasn’t made of rock. It wasn’t even old. It looked like the same material, but was mostly clay and on top of that – it was smart clay.
It had a soft-spot. It was either the material which was special, or the way it was made. Either way, it wasn’t more than two inches thick. Regina felt the whole left side (which was about 20% of the whole thing) with her palm from top to middle and stopped in one place then quickly squeezed her hand into a fist and pushed in a short – but powerful – burst. The whole thing came down in front of us.
“Welcome home.” She said.
“Where the hell are we….?” I asked as we were descending once again through a tunnel.
“Yes, but where exactly in Rome?”
“I don’t have an address if that’s what you’re asking.”
“No, I mean what’s on top of us…? Aren’t you in danger of like… someone wanting to make a subway line through your living room?”
“No… not really. There are mostly only old protected buildings above us.” – We were, after all, in Rome. It only made sense and I didn’t give it another thought.
“We’re actually under the Vatican.”
My heart stood still. For several reasons.
“You’ve got to be joking. I mean seriously. From all the places in the world, you decided to live in the Vatican?! Can you mock everything more than this?”
Seriously. You just can’t make these things up. Movies can’t even describe such a thing. But there we were. Under the Vatican, me and a the vampire. This was just too much. Of all the things I had seen – of everything – really weird, unexplainable (some) and just plain hard to digest things – this was the worst (best?). The irony and the degree of mockery cannot be properly described in words. I had later to learn that this was no case of irony or mockery, and it did serve a very, very special purpose.
OK that was the first reason my heart stood still. I just didn’t know if I wanted to go further or not. Because we weren’t actually inside anything that even started to resemble a house. We were more in a basement.
We were crossing a very small and narrow bridge, that went over nothing, but looked like a bridge, a stone bridge, and in the distance, on each of the sides, there was a straight white marble wall with a cross sculpted into it and blackened with what seemed like coal, or graphite, or something like that. It wasn’t paint, it didn’t look like paint. We were under the Vatican alright, and what a view, and what an irony.
We finally arrived to what seemed like a door, but there was no door there, just a very narrow arch that quickly turned to the left and then went up in a small, narrow – but short – corridor.
At the end of the corridor, we were finally there. All in all, from getting off the train until stepping inside the “house” – took us just over two hours. I figured she could be quicker by her own, but no way you do this under an hour.
As soon as she turned on the lights – a combination of candles, lamps and light bulbs (yes, there was electricity down there) – I was in awe.
We were standing in a big hallway that was shaped like half a circle. We came from the back, and in front of us, there was the arched view of the circle, with three rooms – like choosing your fate.
You could see in all of the three rooms from there. They had no doors. It was more like one big arch with two walls separating three separate entrances. Each of the rooms was huge, and they were connected among themselves also through a second arch in each of them, in the middle of the wall.
One of the rooms served as a bathroom. All of it. It was huge. These were no ordinary rooms. Imagine the inside of medieval church, each room being at least 50 meters long and at least 20 meters wide, and with ceilings that spanned upwards until it became too dark to see. You literally could not see where the ceiling ended. They were that high. The echo in each of these rooms was just plain amazing, and annoying in the same time, and with Regina’s hearing I could bet she heard anything and anyone from a great distance.
The room that served as a bathroom had its own pool – with continuously flowing hot water – that overflowed all the time in a reservoir. Other than that, it had everything a bathroom needed, equipped with modern and old things alike. The whole front wall was taped with mirrors and the whole room was rather dark, only illuminated by the light in the pool and later a few candles in one of the corners of the pool, which also had around it, within reaching distance, a half empty bottle of wine.
The second room was more of an entertainment/training/living room. One side of the room, all across it, 50 meters long, had a bookshelf full with books. It was a damn library. I didn’t recognize half of them. The very end of the room had three chairs around a small but sturdy, brown oak table. Right at the entrance, to the left, there was a training area of around 20 square meters – there were ropes hanging from the ceiling and most of the equipment was just non-moving steel bars and handles made for climbing, staying in balance on them or god knows what. The right hand side of the room had everything your heart could desire in the matter of electronics, from large screen projectors to stacks of hard-drives, servers, and hundreds of CD’s. Old and new were merging together, like everything here, from CD players, VCR, to old gramophones, from stacks of hard-drives to stacks of diapositives. A whole library and in the same time an entertainment room. A small wine selection was laying in a shelf near the big leather chairs and the table, and other than that the whole thing, the whole room, was tapered in paintings looking down on you.
The third room was the bedroom. It was both the quietest and most peaceful bedroom in the world, and also the most horrifying one.
There wasn’t really anything there. Imagine a 50 by 20 meters room, that you can’t see the end of it or the height of it because it just seems to have none of those due to the low light. This room had a bed in the middle of it – a bed the size of which I had never seen. It could easily fit at least 10 people on it, maybe more. It was the size of maybe 6 or seven king-sized beds put together in a perfect square. The whole thing was covered in layers and layers of huge, thin purple silk sheets. You could go under one, two, three, ten or more layers, as many as you wanted. This was also the most sad bed in the world. One single small lonely pillow in one corner. That’s it. That whole gigantic bed and one pillow.
One single thick rope was lingering above the bed, it was attached to the ceiling and when looking up at it you couldn’t exactly see where it led. It was just a rope descending from nothingness above the bed. In case of trouble I figured.
Regina pulled down a thick wooden door – more like a wall – after we entered, and sealed it by pushing it into a perfectly fit shape in the wall. We were sealed there.
The whole area, the whole place was covered in a thick black dust and spider webs the likes you’ve never seen.
I didn’t say anything, and nobody started cleaning. We just cleaned whatever we used next.
She started lightning more and more candles from one room to another room, and more and more lamps and light bulbs, until the whole area became rather visible and bearable. It was cold and damp as hell and stank of mold, but slowly it started getting warmer, more welcoming, dryer and the smell started going away, as we started actually staying there and stirring things up.
Regina headed straight for the pool and leaned in to check the water with one hand. She smiled.
“Eleven years… and still warm. Now that’s what I call welcoming.”
“Wait, you haven’t been here in eleven years?”
“No, I don’t come that often…”
Well that explained the dust and everything.
She undressed and was in the pool taking a bath before we finished speaking. I followed. The feeling of swimming in a catacomb was overwhelming, eerie but pleasant and quiet in the same time. Just like taking a bath in a warm-ish lake during a summer night.
After that we went in the living room and she started turning on one thing after another, computer after computer, screen after screen, they were all turning back to life, shedding their dust outer shell and aligning into a smooth, soothing humming sound, after the beeps and lights calmed down. The whole room started glowing and getting a whole different kind of light, with images reflecting from one brick to the other.
She then headed slowly towards the piano in the corner and sat down…[audio http://k006.kiwi6.com/hotlink/ss5hunhhh3/beethoven_moonlight_sonata_sonata_al_chiaro_di_luna_.mp3]
I slowly approached her and put my hands on top of hers and gently started playing together with her until she took her hands down and left me to continue. She just stood there, frozen, without saying anything, with me lingering above her head, smelling her hair and playing one of the only three songs I can play. I can’t play the piano, not really, I just learned them by heart.
“BANG” “BANG” – I stopped playing and we both jolted up. What the hell. Who’s there, what’s happening, who knows we’re here. We’re trapped. Oh god…
“I can’t even have five minutes for myself…” She said angrily while heading towards the bookshelves behind us.
She pulled one of the shelves away and pried open a door an iron door locked from top to bottom with three metal bars going across it from left to right.
I was already prepared to run.
Upon opening the door, a small figured appeared, an old man. A priest.
WHAT?! Oh this can’t get any better.
But it did. The priest bowed his head, looked at me and then looked back and said something in Italian. He moved aside and from behind him, a taller, more imposing man appeared, also a priest I figured, but dressed casually with only the collar giving him away and the cross around his neck.
Regina kissed his hand and they both bowed their heads slightly to one another.
Well, I thought, this is something else…
The old man handed us both a suitcase with clothes in it. How the hell did he know I was here? How did they know anyone was here? I later asked Regina about it and she pointed up all around us. There were cameras, all around us there were surveillance cameras! I couldn’t believe it! She agreed to let herself filmed?! Granted, as long as she didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, there was no need for her to worry.
She told me that “All weapons can fire in two opposite directions” meaning that she had as many reasons to worry for being filmed as they had for filming her. I wondered if it was recorded. It wasn’t, apparently. But you never know.
Regina and the priest talked in Italian while we both got dressed. She took of the clothes that she had on her right there in front of the two priests like they weren’t even there, while they were still talking casually, and she got dressed. I followed. This seemed way too awkward for me, but I kept pushing and pushing myself into putting myself into her shoes. I kept trying to imagine how I would feel about each and every situation if I was her. And apparently the less ashamed you are of your body, the less pudic you are. In that regard, I don’t think she would have had any problems walking naked through Trafalgar square.
From what I could muster in my broken Italian, I understood that there were others that knew about her, there was someone else we had to talk with about the attacks in Turkey, and that they would help her in any way possible. I also understood that we had to go.
We were given two crosses to put around our necks, which we both did. Seeing Regina dressed as bland as possible, in a gray skirt and a gloomy shirt, with a cross around her neck and her hair tied behind her back, I couldn’t help but laugh. They all looked at me like at some distracted kid, which I was. But you have to give it to me, this was too ironic and too funny to not at least smile.
It was like in those times when something so unbelievable or unexpected, but most of the times bad, happens to you, that you just give up and jump over being angry, straight to laughing… out of self-pity. I didn’t pity myself, but I just laughed in the same way. Just like when you’re too tired to even think anymore and everything seems funny. It was out of this world for me, seeing her like that, knowing what she is and knowing what the whole world thinks about her kind.
We followed the two priests up a corridor, out of the house (crypt, catacomb?). One priest in front of us, one behind us. And as the old priest closed the door behind us, through where they came from, I could see sculpted in rock above the door, three small words.
Ancient latin letters. There were others like it, all around the house, and before entering it from the other side, but they were all half of word, erased, some meaningless, some without any context, some were names….
However this inscription… this inscription read something else.
I’ll leave you to decipher what it said, and because I lack the means of actually writing in ancient Latin here, I wrote it by hand.
…as the phoenix was reborn, it wanted nothing else but fly away. [story part 19]
February 26, 2012 § 2 Comments
Before going into the post I just want to make a quick point here:
I had written in an earlier post about how Regina told me that there are hundreds of blood types, and I received about two e-mails telling me that’s bullshit – how could she know more than the whole human scientific world. and that was many years ago, but here is a piece of news written one day after my post, just in time.
Scientists discover two new blood-types. Here is the article in ScienceDaily.
Now on with the story.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
– Andis Nin.
That day came for me sooner than expected.
That very night, was it.
That night had been a nightmare, and I truly believed that very night, my heart stopped, maybe just for a second. That counts as dead for me.
But I didn’t die. I prefer not to call it “saved” but “reborn”. Not physically, but mentally.
I don’t know what and how to tell you, but something clicked inside me that night. Inside my mind, inside my soul.
I had been shaken so hard, from my very core within, that it changed me entirely. It changed the way I saw the world, it changed the way I thought about the world.
The next day I woke up after sundown, thinking for a second that it’s the same night.
I had flashes of light in my eyes, during the night before, of street light poles flashing in my face, one after another, after another, and I realized I was in the back of a car seeing them as we drove past.
I remember yet even more screams and I remember Regina screaming in Russian at a guy that was driving.
Then I remember passing in and out of conscience, it was a blur but some things are pretty clear.
Like when Regina woke me up and started speaking in Latin. I knew exactly what words she was muttering. The exact same words that I need to accept, like some kind of spoken contract, before being turned.
I said no. I said it even before she was finished with it. She didn’t stop, kept going, and at the end asked me:
“Do you accept?”
“No…” I muttered.
I remember thinking that was rather ironic. The fact that her face at my answer could have easily meant she would kill me right there and then, if it wasn’t the situation I was in. The irony being she was trying to save me, but my answer prompted her to end me.
“If you don’t figure out what your place in the world is, you will soon not have a place in the world at all.” Regina said. And of course, that meant I would die that night if I didn’t accept.
I remember telling myself sooner that year, that I had stopped fighting with my inner demons, that I was on their side now. But it was all lies. I wasn’t prepared to make this choice under this pressure. Even faced with this, death at my doorstep, I was more stubborn than ever.
I would have said yes, maybe, in any other circumstance but this.
“No…” I muttered again. And before letting her explode, I added:
“What is it?”
“What is what?!” She replied quickly, angry at me nonetheless.
I turned my head from one side to the other trying to muster more strength.
I was on a table, in some sort of bar, and I could still hear music somewhere behind me. Dear god I hoped nobody was dancing behind me, while I prepared to meet death.
“What is it that keeps you going, as a vampire…?” I finally explained. What I meant was actually what was the fuel that pumped in her veins, metaphorically, that kept her living, smiling, interested in the world, lively and happy. The very reason to live, the fabric of life itself. That magic thing which gets you through life, no matter how hard it sometimes is. The mojo. The elixir of happiness. Call it however you want, I’m sure there are thousands of way of putting it. But she put it… rather… perfect. On the spot. Like always.
“The beauty of being a vampire?” She replied as a rhetorical question, and then, answering herself, she continued:
“The beauty of being a vampire? The most important thing for me?
It is not eternal life,
it is not power,
it is not invulnerability to any sickness.
it is something much simpler, but that more important.
it is the fact that we get to choose who we’re going to be, everyday.”
How do I remember this? I would remember it at any given hour of the night, like a prayer if you wish. Because it was the perfect answer, Regina, of course, rarely offered any other kind.
It was also the answer that nearly crossed that bridge I was talking about in the first posts about. The bridge that only goes one way, towards eternal life… and others.
I pondered on that for as much as I could, but alas, it came again:
“You will die soon.” And I believed her. I was terrified, but I didn’t want to accept what was happening.
Which were the five stages of death again? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I was now in denial, but I didn’t really have time to go through all of them, so I decided, unconsciously, to skip the three and just get it done with. Go straight to acceptance, like a magic dice that tells you to skip three spots at a board game.
I tried looking at myself and noticed my arms were moving and then in a flash I remember how my shoulders were just dislocated, not broken, and she put them back by pushing me really hard against the table until they popped, clicked and creaked. Excruciating pain, so intense I would have rather had my arms broken instead, maybe that would be less painful.
The bites were also almost gone, smeared with blood, but almost gone. Regina closed whatever she could to stop me from losing blood so fast.
But my spleen was… well, it was ripped in half and that wouldn’t heal. There was only so much she could do.
I didn’t understand at the time who exactly set these limits, but apparently the blood flow was just, well, too high.
“Hospital…” I finally said after seeing myself in yet another pool of blood I had made. At least I wasn’t puking anymore, and I was well on my way towards acceptance. I was on the brink of giving up. My heart was already skipping every two or three beats, like an old engine trying really hard not to stall.
“They can’t do anything. Too late for that!” Regina said and then added “We could just pray, maybe that would be more fruitful.” That was sarcasm coming out of her mouth. She had it, lots of it actually.
She was against religion, but also careful about the approach towards science. Science gives us the power, but doesn’t tell us how to use that power she once said. I think she was rather referring to nukes back then, not hospitals.
She looked at me with a last inquiring look, as in asking me with both meanings of the word “asking”, for a final time, to accept.
I said, once again, “No…”.
And then, between my last breathes I would ever take, which were becoming farther and farther apart from one another, eyes closed in between, I saw Regina perform a miracle.
Something, that I later learned, she had never tried before. She risked her own more than five hundred years of existence, to save a stubborn child. To save my ass. I would have died happy even if what she did that night wouldn’t have worked.
How much more kindness and sacrifice would you want from a being that the world considers a monster? This alone, gave her forgiveness from me, god, and whoever else might be listening in, for all that she did over the centuries, that night and for what she did to Blanche that night when I told her I could forgive her, depending on whether she could redeem herself. She did redeem herself, for those and more to come.
She literally slashed her wrist almost to the bone with her mouth and made with her knife on my wound a kind of cross but not really, she crested the wound actually, and then she stuck her hand inside me. I literally felt her hand go under my ribs, grabbing something. I felt my own heart trying to make room for whatever that was. I was literally touched on the heart as she passed by. Physically. That DOES NOT happen in science fiction movies, that doesn’t happen in books, that didn’t happen not even in the mother of all miracle books, the fucking bible. She stood like that for what seemed hours, but was merely minutes, and when that didn’t seem to be working, she ripped her throat out on a side, made Nikita hold my wound open and poured herself inside me. I can’t describe it better, I could see a river of her blood dripping inside me, straight inside the wound which by now was the size of a fist. This is what I called a blood transfusion.
But wait – this would turn me!
“Regina, this will turn me! NO!” She looked at me and just slapped me. Soon after that, I fainted or fell asleep, one or the other.
The next morning (after sundown, so night) I woke up in the hotel, in the bed, full of blood but alive. I tried getting up which proved rather an adventure. My hands, shoulders and bites were all good and healed, although I had a slight ache in both my shoulders.
But my left side… on my abdomen, just above the first two ribs on the bottom. Well that was another story. I was healed alright, but the scar was flaming hot, red, still pulsing and looking about to burst. It was still healing under my very own eyes. It was beautiful. It still is. I have a kind of weird… cross on my abdomen. Ironic. Wasn’t sure what was going on inside though, but it felt ok-ish.
I don’t know how and what she did exactly, but she pulled it off. Hell, I didn’t even knew until years later, that my spleen was intact. I was pretty sure she took it out that night.
Regina was nowhere to be seen.
Then I remembered what she had done.
Shit – I turned. I don’t feel different. What’s happening?
I opened the windows trying to look at the sun see if I burn, then I remembered again. Man, those movies were powerful. I still expected vampires to catch fire in sunlight, even though I was now with one almost everyday, and she didn’t.
Still, fangs. Check, nothing. Of course not.
Mirror, I went to take a look at myself, I was pale as a sheet of paper, I was dizzy, nausea and still shivering cold.
I was either a vampire or so anemic that I shouldn’t even be able to open my eyes, not even mentioning getting up.
I instantly cut myself with a scissor, that desperate I was, and stuck my finger in my mouth.
Still human. But how?
I then thought again about Regina. Where was she. Oh god, I remembered how she drained herself completely.
I didn’t knew what to do. Where to… go?
I went in the bathroom to try to clean myself up and leave the hotel for Nikita, although I had no clue where that was.
When I entered the bathroom, there she was.
Regina, in the bathtub, three inches of blood on the bathtub bottom. Enough for a human being to function with.
She looked at me, tried to smile and then started puking again. Blood.
She was puking blood, and she looked horrible. She could barely hold her head up.
“Regina! What’s happening ?!? Why ?? What can I do ??” I jumped towards her, trying to hold her head up, help her somehow.
“Feed… I need to feed…” She replied.
“But you’re already throwing it out!” I instantly replied.
“It’s mine ! It’s MINE !” I thought she was delirious (Gollum came to mind…), but then I remembered last night, put two and two together in what took me, shamefully, more than it should have, and realized that Regina stuck all of her into me, then sucked it all out to comply with my refusal of not turning. Never done before by her apparently, or rarely by anyone else. It meant death in most of the cases for a vampire. Also, I was pretty surprised it worked for me. By my understanding, I got her blood, healed, then all out again and left on the brink of death with maybe 20% of my juice still in? That seemed way over my limits of understanding biology and started going into “this is sorcery!” field.
Blood poisoning, karma, call it as you want, but you can’t drink all of your own blood and walk around with it. That would be something though, wouldn’t it? That was Regina right now. Poisoned by her own body.
I was perfectly aware I was in no condition to feed her, yet, I didn’t care, once again, and put my neck on her lips.
“NO! Go away! Not you! NO! THIS IS BECAUSE OF YOU!” She blurted out, although with less intensity (obviously) than what she would usually use.
What to do?
Well, believe me or not – I called room service.
What to order? Food? No. Takes too long.
Something to drink – but we have everything here!
Champagne! We don’t have that.
Dial room service – Russian speaking dude answers.
English with a lot of cracks, but understood my message.
Champagne, to me, five minutes ago!
I thought then: Look at myself, standing here, ordering Champagne, to celebrate maybe?
Celebrate what? My survival or Regina’s imminent death?
Because, however you would look at it, I had managed to bring Regina on the brink of death in a few short months. Something that nobody managed to do (I guess) in over five centuries. All because of a necklace.
In no time, room service was there.
“Take it to the bathroom.” I said without even looking at the man who delivered it. Without hello. I only hoped I would get to tip him (funny right? here’s ten euros for your mojo). I couldn’t stand the idea of someone dying because of me.
Not him, not a human being who, by the looks, looked innocent enough.
Regina was, of course, by any means, a killer with who deserved that punishment. For some, it was a blessing if you ask me, but she also
was a philanthropist with those who need not die.
Which is very, very rare in the kinship.
There are others like her of course, but they are like a fistful of pepper, thrown in a bucket of salt.
As soon as the room service guy went inside the bathroom, I stepped behind him and closed the door.
I didn’t want to hear what was going to happen next. But I did.
Large thuds, screams, growls, glass breaking.
Seconds later she stepped outside the bathroom. Blood smeared all over her, although mostly hers. I was sure she was not in the position to let a single drop of good blood go to waste. And she didn’t.
“Is he dead?” I asked.
“He’ll live.” She replied. I was relieved.
“We need to leave.” She added and with a swift move she closed in on me and put her left hand behind my back, her right hand on my wound. Kissing me and checking for the wound in the same time. She seemed pleased.
After she released I also took her wrists and looked at her neck to see how she was. What was I expecting? There was nothing there anymore.
She wasn’t smiling anymore. She was angry. Not at what happened, not for what she might have learned from those… assassins of mine, but at me. I had declined being turned, and we both knew that was a problem.
I couldn’t remain like this forever – even she had to obey the Codex at some point. But for now, she let it slide.
Before I even managed to wash my face she had showered, got dressed and taken on her shoes. I was either slow or she was too fast.
“Regina… what you did last night… you do realize that is nothing short but of a miracle?” I added. I was expressing my thoughts out loud.
“But at what cost?” She replied, almost hissing at me.
“I am no angel.” She added. I didn’t understand until later on what she had meant.
“Yes, but you risked it all… to save me.” I replied.
She said nothing, but I knew what she was thinking.
One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
– Andre Gide
And that was what she did now, but also five centuries ago, when she decided to leave the shore and join the world which she was now a part of. To discover it, you had to leave your land, your life, your comfort and venture into the unknown. But that is a story to be told another time.
We quickly left the room and on our way downstairs, sure enough, a ‘gang’ of three kinship members, men, were going up, bowing their head to Regina very, very subtle as we passed one another. I had assumed they were the cleaning crew. I still don’t know how Regina managed to send for anything she needed without using any means of communication. She must have some sort of… I gave up on trying to find out long ago.
In no time, we were shiny, in the airport, headed for France.
Russia, Moscow (SVO) – France, Le Mans (LME) the tickets read. Again handed by someone inside the airport, already bought and paid for. I started to think this was a charter flight, planned in advanced, it looked like one, but it didn’t feel like one.
As the plane started shaking when taking off, I was once again remembered I’m still human. My left side hurt at each move, each shake.
But I was alive, and I was headed for France, with a few hours to spare, used to put some order in my thoughts.
I opened my laptop and started putting everything down, while it was still fresh, although at the moment, that was the last thing I wanted to do. Remember everything again.
*** Stop asking for photos with Regina. That wouldn’t just be useless for this story, but also impossible. You must imagine how preposterous such a request is, in case you read the story, you must understand.
I can, however, provide other photos, in private. But nothing that cannot be faked or is easily available on the net. I can provide, for example, photos with my scars, taken years later.
Some have asked: Well, if you can’t post a photo with her, then maybe post a photo with a famous actress or someone who looks like her. So we can form an image.
My response on that is: shame on you and fine, I will, as soon as I find something appropriate. I can’t stress this enough, she’s hard to match.
the girl that is always waited for, but never waits for herself…[story part 17]
February 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
“It is you,” the monk said, and with that, stopped even his breath, in await for an answer.
Regina knew how to play each and every card, for she let the monks stir in their own emotions and thoughts, before providing an answer.
She looked questioningly at the monk, confused a bit.
The monk repeated the same phrase in Latin.
Regina said nothing again, and before I even knew it, the monk was trying to muster his words in yet another language.
Then, Regina, with an air of irritated aristocracy, blurted out:
And she kept going, faster and faster, one after another, language after language.
She must have said it in over thirty languages in total and with each one the monk opened his eyes and mouth wider and wider and stepped back further and further.
With each word Regina let out from under her breath, she also put a determined step forward, and the monk one backward.
She continued doing this heading for the entrance to the chapel.
She started walking towards the monks and the entrance to the chapel, with very determined paces, one, after another, after another. Step by step she took, made the monks tense even harder, each one pounding their faces like a tidal wave.
By the time she reached the entrance of the chapel she had run out of languages and continued to say:
“It is me and I can understand your petty languages. Now leave and let me be.”
She was really determined in making this monk have a heart-attack, or this is who she was, and I just didn’t knew it because she was different with me. I couldn’t tell. In any case, this episode really reminded me of the little excursion we had back at the monastery in my hometown. I giggled inside me, on the outside I tried keeping that same aristocratic air Regina had. It suited me and I liked it.
I followed, and they treated me as they treated her. With fear.
The monk that spoke was no more than twenty years old. He was the youngest monk I’ve ever seen. He was merely a young boy.
He followed us closely but cautiously.
“But you must see him…” he said.
Regina was still walking towards the end of the chapel.
“Who?” She responded. I was curios myself.
“The one before me.” The monk was quick with the answer.
She stopped short of two meters from the end of the chapel, which also held the crypt of Dracula.
“He still lives?” She asked with an amazed expression on her face.
“Yes, and he waited for your return for this long…” The monk added in fear.
I was getting the hang of what was going on here.
“Then I shall meet him now.” She responded.
She turned back and the monk led us quickly to a room outside the chapel and into the main building. The monk opened the door and retreated, leaving just the two of us in the room.
In the middle of the room there was a single massive double bed. Inside the bed was an old man, barely breathing, but perfectly conscious. His eyes sparkled at the sight of Regina and his mouth gasped for more air that he could hold.
“Hello…” she said smilingly approaching the bed. I stayed put.
“I have waited over seventy years for your sight once again. I do not know…” he trailed off.
“If you are an angel…” he looked shortly at me,
“Or a demon…” And Regina grabbed his hand and smiled towards him. The sunshine coming through the window above the bed was flowing down her dark curls and her smile that I couldn’t see but I knew it was there. She had an aura as I watched her from behind, the sun being occluded by her body.
For me, that truly looked like an angel, not a demon.
No demon would take pity in putting an old man’s fears and questions to rest, on his death-bed, so he could leave this world in peace.
“I am what god made me father, I do not need a purpose or a name, I am one of his children…” She was being kind with him and I knew it.
The old priest (monk?) smiled mildly and seemed very pleased with the answer. It was the answer he has been waiting for all of his life.
“I am what the Earth beneath my feet requires me to be, and I obey…” Regina added.
The monk nodded and Regina approached his forehead. My heart stopped for a second there but then, the monk closed his eyes and Regina kissed his forehead.
She reached for her pocket and gave him a little crucifix.
“You are free to go now father, your duty is complete.”
I almost started crying in seeing the kindness in her. She stood up and we both walked out of the room.
I perfectly knew that Regina was not a religious… being. She almost despised religion and considered it to be a plague upon mankind, yet she took the time to put an old monk to rest. She took the time to be kind with the ones who needed nothing else but kindness, for they were on the brink of death.
When she turned, her eyes too were short of a blink in letting a tear roll out. But they didn’t.
As soon as we left the room, the monk that led us there entered the room and closed the door after him. We continued on the hallway out of the building and towards the chapel. On our way she had told me that she met that old man when he was merely a young boy, not even twenty years of age, she had met him when she last visited this place. When she last visited her long-lost relative, Vlad Tepes.
And now, the cycle would repeat maybe, in a century, once more. For the monk that received us now was also barely twenty, and, maybe, in another seventy years time, she would return once again.
The monks had an entire book about her, which held sketches of her face, her body, and tales of how the angel returns once in a century, to seal the devil’s tomb on this Earth time after time.
When we got at the end of the chapel, she put her fingers around the edge of the crypt and was searching for a good place to pull the lid off. I didn’t see the purpose in doing that, but I was dying of curiosity.
The Romanian government had opened Vlad’s tomb years before, and I knew for a fact, with photos, that the tomb was empty. Except Vlad’s belongings, jewelry, a sword and other miscellaneous things, there was nothing. No bones, no clothes. Nothing. I remember that the monks refused to let anyone open it and barricaded themselves in the chapel. It took weeks for the government to be able to open the tomb and lots of monks died back then, they starved themselves, set themselves on fire or found other creative ways of opposing the opening of the tomb. The island as a whole, was strictly forbidden to outside interference, and only during a short period each year you could go visit, and that visit was strictly related to entering the chapel, seeing the tomb and leaving.
What I didn’t knew was that Regina had a little superstition of her own.
She deeply believed that nobody else inside the kinship, except her and Vlad himself, would dare open the tomb. She had always longed for the rumors to be true, she always wanted Vlad to be still alive. To be the father of all that she is.
She longed for his admiration and his return, she wanted him to return and be proud of what she is. She wanted him to see everything that she built, everything that was under her control, and how good she had dealt with human affairs over centuries and thousands of decisions.
For centuries, she had returned here and left a single drop of her own blood touch his long-lost sword. For she knew, that if someone would ever open this tomb, it would be him. And he would want what was once his. He would sense his own bloodline, he would sense the smell of his own offspring, and he would know then and there, that his blood still runs through the veins of the powerful.
So she did this religiously, and every once in a while, usually once every sixty or seventy years, she would do this.
She wanted me to know all this, and she wanted me to see that vampires too, have superstitions and beliefs, hopes and dreams, that were being crushed day after day, year after year, for centuries at a time.
She had put the lid back one, lit a candle on top of it and “sealed it” with a kiss, in front of the monks, for them to continue believing in their little miracle: the sealing of the devil’s tomb. With that we were on our way.
As we left the chapel the monks were flanking us on either side, watching us carefully and fearfully.
She kissed the young monk on the cheek and he gasped in the process, then she looked in his eyes and told him:
“Guard it with your life, wait for my return.”
He nodded and said nothing else in response.
And just like that, the monks shut themselves inside the chapel and allowed us to leave from where we came from. And we did.
I noted in my diary:
“This is how you scare a bunch of monks. You don’t go there and flash everything you’ve got at them, you go there and act like their deepest fear and in the same time, their most worshiped thing. You act like the devil and god himself, embodied in the same vessel. You act like Regina. You show yourself as a broken cup, glued back together. A cup made of mercy, kindness, smiles and light, but a cup filled with fear, that seeps through the cracks and shows its nature on the surface.”
We headed back to the car where the driver was soundly asleep. He woke up with Regina banging on his window and smiling. He sprung up in fear and immediately started straightening himself up once again.
I could see on Regina’s face that she was back in her comfortable self.
We set on the road once again and in no-time we were standing inside the Otopeni airport, in Bucharest.
The driver handed both of us two tickets and shook bowed his head towards us, and with that, and a sign of relief on his face, he was gone.
My ticket read: “Bucharest Otopeni (OTP) – Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO).”
“Are you mad? I can’t go to Moscow!” I blurted out upon seeing that.
“Why not?” Regina asked me calmly. She wanted an answer and she looked like she would indeed agree to me not going, if I would provide a sound reason for it.
I stopped for a second… why shouldn’t I go really?
“I don’t have a VISA. Don’t I need a VISA to travel to Moscow? Plus I’m underage, I need a tutor.” I said.
“That’s been sorted out.” she replied.
She handed me my “new passport”.
We were brother and sister apparently, and we both had VISAS for Russia.
Christina and Johannes Alt.
Really. Very funny.
“Alt” means “Old” in German.
Born in Vienna, both of us.
I didn’t even wanted to know how she got a passport style photo of me. It was a photo I had taken a month before to hand in for the school to have what to put on diplomas and whatnot. I did hand them in but now I had a feeling I need to repeat the process because they “got lost”.
This was, by all means, movies for me. I truly believed this only happens in movies, not real life. I had to sit down for a moment and catch my breath. Regina was looking at me smiling, the same way you look at a small kid first discovering something very interesting for him, like seeing a plane taking off, but very common to the rest of the “adult world.”
“Fine.” I said.
And with that we both embarked on a flight to Russia.
We were there in no time and Regina looked at nothing else except out the window the whole flight.
The flight didn’t even took a whole three hours, but it was a very boring three hours. I wondered if she could jump out the plane and swim to Moscow safely, but the I remembered we’re not above sea.
We landed in Moscow.
Fear not Russia, for the storm has arrived I told to myself seeing as Regina was getting anxious and more stirred, like a storm preparing to unleash.
When we reached Moscow it was already pass midnight, it was now the 27th of May, 2005, and, sure enough a similar car was waiting for us, with a similar driver, yet less frightened and more comfortable.
Regina nodded at him and he opened the door for her. We hopped in and in after a short thirty minute drive we had arrived in front of a very impressive, very big, and very old looking style hotel.
It read: “Hotel Ukraina.”
I was impressed, but tired. The only thing that I wanted was a nice long bath and then a deep sleep cuddled next to Regina. But she had other plans…